Honda Motor Co. on Monday began selling new cars online, becoming the first major Japanese automobile manufacturer to allow customers in the domestic market to complete the whole process online from consultations to contracts.

The service, called Honda ON, is only being offered to Tokyo residents on a subscription contract basis initially and will be expanded nationwide in the future. Honda hopes to cultivate demand from customers who want to avoid face-to-face service amid the coronavirus pandemic and from younger people.

Supplied photo shows a Honda Motor Co. Fit compact car. (Kyodo)

Customers will choose a three-year or five-year contract for one of four mainstay models available under the service, paying monthly fees that include the cost of maintenance and compulsory inspection. In addition, there is an option to buy out a subscribed car before the contract expires.

Toyota Motor Corp. offers a similar subscription service in Japan that allows customers to return the vehicle when the contract expires. Users of Toyota's service will incur an extra charge if their vehicle exceeds a certain mileage.

Online car sales have already been introduced overseas by such automakers as electric vehicle giant Tesla Inc. Toyota and Nissan Motor Co. have set up a system in the United States that allows customers to complete the purchase of new cars online.

On a website operated by a subsidiary of Honda, customers can select a car model and decide on options. Customers only need to go to the showroom when taking delivery of their cars.

Nissan will also allow customers in Japan to finish purchases online of its new Ariya electric sport utility vehicle, which is scheduled to go on sale this winter.